On Stack Overflow, the "accepted" answer shows that the loop has been closed and the question has been answered to the satisfaction of the asker. That's true here too. But there's a big difference between accepting an answer on a practical and specific question as opposed to a general and broad question. On SO, I might ask:
How I can use the
foobarfeature that was introduced in version 18.104.22.168 when I'm using version 22.214.171.124?
One answer might be to upgrade and the other might be a workaround for my version. The "correct" answer is probably to upgrade, but it's nice that I can reward the other answer since there's probably some reason I can't upgrade and the workaround really helps me out. But our questions are more likely to be like:
It's still important to know if the question was answered, but it doesn't matter as much which answer the asker was most helped by. In fact, it can be downright harmful to the way our community works if we are perceived as favoring one doctrinal position over another. When people ask a big-picture question they are, in a sense, asking not for themselves, but for anyone that Google will direct our way.
And that makes accepted answers very problematic. When a new user searches Google for "hellenistic jews", the third result1 points to the above question. For that person Ralph M. Rickenbach's answer will appear to be the answer that our community believes is most correct. However, I hope that new answers will be added and eventually receive higher answer scores. Ideally, Richard will then change his accepted answer. But Richard isn't active on the site anymore2, so that may never happen. As a community, we are stuck with this accepted answer unless we decide to delete it altogether.
- It would remove some of the perception of our site having doctrinal cliches.
- It would give people who find us via search engines the answer that our community as a whole finds to be best.
Basically, we need to prevent askers of questions from being able to decide for the community as a whole which answer is "correct".
As of this writing with my personal results hidden or in an incognito window.
I'd love to have him come back. We miss you, Richard!